MATCH 6 : Nepal vs the Netherlands : Five Key Notes

MATCH 6 : Nepal vs the Netherlands : Five Key Notes

The Netherlands defeated Nepal by eight wickets and concluded the first tri-series of the WCL 2 cycle on a positive note. Asked to bat first again, Nepal failed to show any substantial performance with the bat in yet another dismal outing and conceded the match to the visitors without any major defense. Nepal’s much-lauded in-form ODI side finished the tri-series with just a win out of four home ODI matches.

Here are the five key notes from the Netherlands vs Nepal, Match 6 of the WCL 2 :

  • The batting order shuffle : 

Nepal changed its batting order in every match of this tri-series. The middle-order lineup was shuffled in every match. While the rationale behind this could be that the batting order was changed as and when conditions required, it is safe to say that those changes failed to reap any rewards in three losses.

The batting order against the Netherlands left the fans scratching their heads. Despite selecting a batting-heavy playing XI with a long batting tail, Nepal failed to stitch any meaningful partnerships in the match. The batters, who looked in prime touch at the start of the series, looked woefully out of touch. The constant shuffle seems to have unsettled even the in-form batters. The playing XI selection was questionable as well.

The Canada series was the preparatory series, hence, the experimentation was justifiable. In the WCL 2, which is Nepal’s only pathway to reaching an ODI World Cup, opting for the tried and trusted batting formula could have been a more sensible approach. The WCL 2 is more competitive than ever and dropping crucial points at home could be fatal for Nepal in the long run.

 

  • The Dutch bowling attack : 

The Netherlands concluded the tri-series with two wins out of four matches, a win each against Nepal and Namibia. In the showdown against home side Nepal, the Dutch were outstanding with the ball. Right-arm pacer Vivian Kingma took crucial top-order wickets of Aasif Sheikh and Anil Sah. 

When spinners Aryan Dutta and Roelof Van der Merwe were brought into attack, Nepali batters failed to keep the scoreboard ticking. The spinners were accurate in their line and length and proved extremely hard to score against. Just when Kushal Bhurtel and Rohit Paudel seemed to be getting into attrition mode, Nepal’s captain Paudel became a victim of a tight Dutch attack as he top-edged his release shot. 

Dutta and van der Merwe conceded just 39 in between them and picked up 4 wickets in 20 overs of bowling. The duo had a stranglehold on Nepali batters as the runs dried up.

Bas de Leede chipped in too as he clean-bowled Nepal’s middle-order shield Bhim Sharki. The Dutch bowlers gradually bowled Nepal out of the match and derailed Nepal’s innings with timely breakthroughs. Nepali batters found it tough to counter-attack the relentless accuracy of Dutch bowlers, culminating in a tame surrender at the last over of the innings. 

 

  • Nepal’s frontline spinner

 Nepal has relied on part-timer bowlers in recent ODI matches and they have performed decently. But is it wise to depend on them to take wickets when the team is already chasing the match?

Lalit Rajbanshi and Sompal Kami are the premier bowlers for Nepal. They have the knack of taking crucial wickets and single-handedly swinging the match in Nepal’s favor. Part-timers like Kushal Bhurtel and Rohit Paudel have won matches for Nepal with the ball recently but it does not make sense to expect wickets from them every match. The part-timers are less likely to improve their skill sets once the opponents figure out ways to tackle them. Nepal lacks a bowler who is a genuine wicket-taker, someone who can assist Kami and Rajbanshi as well as spearhead the attack when others are having an off day. When the match situation is not in Nepal’s favor and the team desperately needs a wicket, captain Rohit needs someone whom he can expect to deliver every match.

As evident against the Netherlands, Rohit was forced to bring Kushal Malla in the 6th over itself as Nepal’s frontline bowlers Karan KC and Lalit Rajbanshi proved ineffective. While having part-timers who can completely change the momentum of the match is a luxury, relying on them to deliver in every match is a flawed approach.  

 

  • Negotiating Lalit Rajbanshi

Ever since his ODI debut, Lalit Rajbanshi has been accurate and consistent in his line and length. He is known for keeping things tight and has been difficult to score against. Due to his accuracy and tendency to bowl economical overs, Rajbanshi has been used in powerplays as well. He takes key wickets and can drag the game towards Nepal’s favor singlehandedly. He has emerged as Nepal’s premier bowler in recent ODIs.

However, the Dutch batters took an aggressive approach to negotiate the threat of Rajbanshi. Similar to what Namibian batters did, Max O’Dowd and Michael Levitt attacked Rajbanshi early on and forced Nepal to bring part-time bowlers inside the powerplay. Nepal was forced to retreat and change the plan to defend the paltry first innings total.

Nepal has trusted Rajbanshi to deliver inside the first 10 overs but the opponents seem to have found a way to counter Nepal’s most dependable bowler. In the last two games, Rajbanshi has not been given time to settle his line and length which has spoiled Nepal’s bowling strategy and led to haphazard bowling changes.

 

  • An eye opener

Namibia seems to be the most settled associate side. After a period of t20I focus which led to the World Cup qualification, Namibia is well set to gain a headstart in the pathway for the ODI World Cup. Namibia is equipped with a trustworthy pace attack, spearheaded by the experience of Ruben Trumpelmann and young Jack Brasell, a spin attack led by ever-reliable Bernard Scholtz, a well-set top-order batting lineup, and a middle order, built around captain Gerhard Erasmus, which stood tall in alien conditions in the tri-series.

The Netherlands will rarely be at full strength, given the county commitments of some of their players. The Dutch are still a very formidable side and leave Nepal with a couple of wins in their first-ever ODI tour of Nepal. The Netherlands is the closest to achieving the Test status among the associates.

Scotland, UAE, and Oman are ever-present powerhouses of associate cricket. The gap among the associate nations is finer than ever and every team seems to be capable of beating any other team. 

The in-form Nepali side riding high on confidence suffered one-sided defeats repeatedly in the tri-series. The 15-match unbeaten streak at home seems like a tale of years ago and within a matter of days, Nepal has completely lost its ODI mojo. No one saw the defeats that were coming Nepal’s way as the home side had just a win in four matches. All the optimism that was generated courtesy of the lengthy unbeaten streak at home and the Canada ODI series seems to have evaporated completely. With associate cricket more competitive than ever, Nepal needs to regroup and resettle quickly if it is to achieve its goal of becoming the best associate at the end of the current WCL 2 cycle.

 

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